THE revolution devours its children. But there are always more children to devour.
By the middle of 1921 new life was stirring in the battered body of American communism. The two-year old invalid was beginning to show signs of recovery, some generated from the inside, some from the outside. Old names vanished; new names came into prominence.
Inside, the formal end of the split represented the biggest gain. Outside, a new climate of public opinion gradually wore down the government's anti-radical drive.
Unity in itself, however, was useless. A united movement could be just as isolated and impotent as a disunited one. The old line had doomed the American Communists to political paralysis with or without the government's unkind assistance. To contain the breath of life, the new line had to express itself in new ideas, attitudes, slogans, and day-by-day activities. It had to pay off in increased membership, dues payments, newspaper circulation, votes, and trade- union positions. The Comintern was not interested merely in a united party. It wanted a mass party with mass influence, particularly in the labor movement.
On the government's side, the presidential election of 1920 came providentially. The Republican party's sweeping victory retired A. Mitchell Palmer, the Democratic Attorney General who had driven the Communists underground at the beginning of that year. It fell to a